Melk Historical

The place in the change of time

[Translate to English:] © Foto: Franz Gleiß

In about 1,200 years of history we get from the castle of Melk - on today's Stiftsfelsen - from Carolingian times to the construction of the flood protection in 2014 through partly stormy, partly calmer times of the town on the Stiftsfelsen.

We begin with the first documented mention in 831. Avars and Romans roamed the area. The Babenbergs moved their residence to the Burgberg. This was handed over to Benedictine monks in 1113.

The further development of the town was reflected in the growth of the settlement, the confirmation of market rights and the granting of a coat of arms in 1256.

Melk became a toll and customs station and the center of several guilds. However, disputes within the House of Habsburg and the invasion of the Hungarians had negative consequences for the market. The construction of the wall around the town can probably also be traced back to the uncertain times of war.

The general insecurity now resulted from religious causes. The Protestant movement also spread to Melk and had threatening consequences for the monastery, which did not remain without effects on the market. In addition, there was the constant danger from the Turks.

The dawn of the Baroque era with the huge building project in the monastery in the first half of the 18th century again brought economic prosperity to the market. A severe setback followed due to the Napoleonic wars.

Around the middle of the 19th century the general situation of the market was frightening: Melk suffered from the consequences of the terrible fire catastrophe.

Two decades later, a general awakening followed. The town rose like a "phoenix from the ashes". With the construction of the Empress Elisabeth Railway, the demolition of the entire town enclosure, the market was opened up spatially and economically. Public buildings were erected, such as the hospital, the district administration, the district court, the barracks. Private building activity also flourished.

The logical consequence of the upward development was the elevation of the market to a town in 1898.

The Red Thread
If you want to learn more about the history of Melk, go on a walk through the town with an old Melk original. Via audio guide you will learn important facts that have made Melk the place worth living and visiting that it is today.

  • [Translate to English:] Bild von einem Mann mit Zylinder, der auf ein Plakat zeigt
    [Translate to English:] (c) Fotograf, August Prinzl - Der rote Faden, Der wundertätige Leichnam des irischen Pilgers Koloman wird am 13. Oktober in die

Time travel through Melk

831 Melk is called "Medilica" in a document of King Louis.
1014 The miraculous body of the Irish pilgrim Koloman is transferred to St. Peter's Church on October 13. Today the bones rest in the sarcophagus in the collegiate church.
1089 The Benedictine monastery on the castle hill is founded
1481 First construction phase of St. Mary's Church is finalized
1501 Melk is hit by a terrible flood
1548 A fire destroys the market town of Melk except for a few houses
1701 Bis 1736 dauert der barocke Neubau des Stiftes Melk
1847 Another severe fire rages in Melk
1858 The Empress Elisabeth Railway (Westbahn) begins operation
1896 The k.k. Bezirkshauptmannschaft is opened
1898 Markt Melk is elevated to a town (29.09.)
1913 The k.k. Pionierbataillon 9 moves into the newly built barracks

Between April 21, 1944 and April 15, 1945 a concentration camp existed in the Freiherr von Birago Pioneer Barracks Melk. With about 14,390 concentration camp inmates who were conscripted here for forced labor within one year, it was one of the largest subcamps of the Mauthausen concentration camp site and the largest concentration camp subcamp in Lower Austria. About 5000 people were put to death here.

1954 In July, the Danube flood reaches as far as the church square.
1961 The Melk Summer Games take place for the first time
1973 The Danube bridge Melk is opened
1986 The pedestrian zone in the old town is opened
2000 The Old Town is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
2002 The flood reaches the church square
2012 The medieval old town is placed under "ensemble protection" by the Austrian Federal Monuments Office
2014 The flood protection and the design of the main square and the Nibelungen area, including the new viewing platform, are completed.